Treble recorder

This exquisitely decorated instrument is unsigned but was probably made in about 1740 in Naples, where furniture veneered with inlaid tortoise-shell was a speciality. The treble recorder was played in the key of F, and composers like Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) wrote music for it. However, by about 1780 the recorder had lost its place in the orchestra to the flute, a louder instrument. Before the museum acquired this object, it formed part of a decorative trophy of old wind instruments that hung on a wall of the Paris apartment of Gioacchino Rossini (1782-1868), the great Italian composer of light opera.